"Tokusatsu" (特撮), often shortened to just "Toku", is the Japanese catchall term for any live-action sci-fi/fantasy media that makes use of special effects.[[note]]"Tokusatsu" is an abbreviation of coming from "tokushu satsuei", which literally means "special photography".[[/note]]. Though the overlap is not total, it can, at least casually, be considered the live-action analogue to {{Anime}} (at least, to the subset of anime best known to casual viewers in the west).

Originally, Toku differentiated itself from western visual effects genres by its preference for "live" effects (ie. PeopleInRubberSuits) over special effects created during editing (at the time of the genre's birth, specifically the stop-motion techniques pioneered by Creator/RayHarryhausen, now CGI). Modern Toku uses both forms of effect, but "live" effects are still preferred, particularly WireFu.

Tokusatsu had two major periods, dubbed the "Monster Boom" and the "Henshin Boom". The Monster Boom was started by Godzilla and famously saw the rise of many daikaiju pictures in the film industry. Henshin Boom was started by ''Franchise/KamenRider'', and it greatly influenced how action heroes worked and its effects can still be seen today in the superhero and action-adventure genre.

Like Anime and Manga, Toku is one of those terms that means slightly different things in Japan and the West. While Westerners use it to refer almost exclusively to the Japanese superhero shows, in Japan it simply refers to any live-action production which makes extensive use of special effects. This means that, to the Japanese, things like ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', ''Series/StargateSG1'', ''Series/DoctorWho'', ''Series/KnightRider'', ''Series/RedDwarf'' and even ''Film/JamesBond'' count as Toku. This list also includes shows that use puppetry, like Gerry Anderson's {{Supermarionation}} series ''Series/{{Thunderbirds}}'' and ''{{Series/Terrahawks}}'', and even ''ThomasTheTankEngine''. Far and away, the [[TropeCodifier most popular early example]] of Toku is the ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' film franchise, which exemplifies many of the genre's tropes: PeopleInRubberSuits smashing scale model cities, and an abundance of {{squib}}s.

Most of the examples of Toku series are actually [[SeriesFranchise franchises]] of the {{Sentai}} and HenshinHero variety, producing many separate but related series.

Toku series and franchises include:
[[index]]
* ''7-Color Mask''
* ''Film/AikokuSentaiDaiNippon'' - A parody of Super Sentai.
* ''Akumaizer 3'' and its sequel series ''Choujin Bibyun'' are about demons trying to save the world from other demons.
* ''Series/AmbassadorMagma'' - The first color toku. AKA "The Space Giants".
* ''Franchise/ArmorHero''
** ''Series/ArmorHeroXT''
** ''Series/ArmorHeroLava''
** ''Series/ArmorHeroCaptor''
* ''Series/TheAquabatsSuperShow'' - Not quite in this genre, but takes a lot from it, mixed with the campy aesthetics of old Creator/SidAndMartyKrofftProductions shows.
* ''Franchise/BattleStikeTeam'' - China's answer to SuperSentai, made alongside ''Franchise/ArmorHero''
** ''Series/GiantSaver''
** ''Series/SpaceDeleter''
** ''Series/RescueEngine''
* ''Series/BioPlanetWoO''
* ''Series/BIMASatriaGaruda'' - An Indonesian toku produced by MNC Group, RCTI, and Ishinomori Productions. The title translates to ''BIMA the Garuda Knight''. The show has been successful enough they made a sequel ''Bima X'', video game adaptations and [[http://www.itokumag.com/akhirnya-bima-satria-garuda-tiba-di-jepang/4143 Bima X]] Japanese version.
* ''Series/BishoujoKamenPoitrine'', the most recognized show in the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series.
* ''Captain Ultra''
* ''Manga/ChoujinBarom1'' - One of Toei's most famous manga-to-live-action adaptations
* ''Choukou Senshi Changerion''
* ''Series/ChouSeiShinSeries'' - Done by Creator/{{Toho}}, who made the original ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' movies.
* ''Series/DaimajinKanon''
* ''Daitetsujin-17'' - Shotaro Ishinomori and Toei's own take on a ''Manga/GiantRobo''-type series.
* ''Demon Hunter Mitsurugi'' - an early-70s [[/index]]JidaiGeki series, about a trio of {{Ninja}}s who fight of alien invaders by [[FusionDance fusing]] into a giant warrior. Notable for using StopMotion puppetry to create its {{Kaiju}}, rather than the standard PeopleInRubberSuits.[[index]]
* ''Series/DenAce'' - A series of shorts parodying ''Series/{{Ultraman}}''
* ''Series/DenjinZaboga''
* ''Series/DenkouChoujinGridman'' - Adapted in America as ''Series/SuperhumanSamuraiSyberSquad'', featuring Creator/TimCurry as the voice of the BigBad.
* ''Series/DennouKeisatsuCybercop'' - Toho's late-[[TheEighties 80s]] entry in the genre. Essentially a mix between ''Franchise/MetalHeroes'' and ''Franchise/SuperSentai''.
* ''Dinosaur Prince''
* ''Fire Leon''
* ''Series/{{Fireman}}'' - Possibly the first "Giant Hero" made for adults in 1973. From Creator/TsuburayaProductions, the creators of the ''Franchise/UltraSeries''
* ''WebVideo/FranceFive'' - A French homage to Super Sentai.
* ''Franchise/{{Gamera}}''
* ''Ganbaron''
* ''Series/{{GARO}}'' - A comparatively darker take on the genre.
** ''Series/GAROTheOneWhoShinesInTheDarkness''
** ''Series/ZEROBlackBlood''
* ''Manga/GiantRobo'' (a.k.a. ''Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot'')
* ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' - The pioneer of the technique
** ''Film/{{Mothra}}'' - A franchise that mostly overlaps with the Godzilla series, though has its solo films.
* ''Series/HikoninSentaiAkibaranger'' - A Fanchise/SuperSentai-parody series made by [[Creator/ToeiCompany Toei]].
* ''Ike! Godman'' and its sequel series ''Ike! Greenman'' were two of the first Giant Hero series not related to [[Franchise/UltraSeries Ultraman]]. Also created by Toho with a few Godzilla monsters appearing.
* ''Iron King''
* ''Jumborg Ace'' - From Creator/TsuburayaProductions, the creators of the ''Franchise/UltraSeries''
* ''Jushen Zhan Ji Dui'' - A Chinese Sentai-esque series choreographed by Sentai veterans
* ''The Kagestar''
* ''Wrestling/KaijuBigBattel'' - An American AffectionateParody of this [[XMeetsY combined with]] ProfessionalWrestling.
* ''Series/KaiketsuZubat'' - Take a SuperHero toku show, [[MixAndMatch stir in a helping of]] NewOldWest, and then cast Creator/HiroshiMiyauchi, a veteran actor who already had multiple leading roles in toku as the title character.
* ''Series/KaiketsuLionMaru'' - '70s SuperHero toku show about a man in feudal Japan who can turn into a swordsman with lion head. No links with Zubat despite the title. Spawned the immediate sequel ''Fuun Lion Maru''.
** ''Series/LionMaruG'' - over 30 years after the last Lion Maru comes this GenreThrowback from the makers of ''Garo''.
* ''Manga/KamenNoNinjaAkakage''
* ''Franchise/KamenRider''
* ''Kankyou Choujin Ecogainder'' - A series by Japan's Ministry of the Environment to teach kids [[/index]]{{Green Aesop}}s.[[index]]
* ''Series/KanpaiSenshiAfterV'' - A show which parodies ''Super Sentai'' in a similar vein as ''Akibaranger'', though not produced by Toei. Focuses on the heroes' late nights out rather than their battles with evil, thus action scenes are confined to the opening credits.
* ''Kodai Shoujo Dogu-chan'', a.k.a. ''The Ancient Dogoo Girl''
* ''Series/KtaiInvestigator7'' - Officially counted as a toku show by its creators, but is more half-toku/half-drama.
* ''Kure Kure Takora''
* ''Series/KyodaiKenByclosser''
* ''Series/LightspeedEsper''
* ''Series/MadanSenkiRyukendo''
* ''Film/{{Matango}}'' - A Toho horror film using many of the techniques found in Toku.
* ''Series/{{Megaloman}}'' - From Toho.
* ''Franchise/MetalHeroes''
** And by extension, its Philippine spin-off ''Zaido: Pulis Pangkalawakan'', which was not really positively liked by fans. (In fact the ''Shaider Next Generation'' DTV doesn't make the said spinoff canon)
* ''Series/MegaPowers'' - A Brazilian ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' knock-off distributed by Creator/VideoBrinquedo.
* ''Series/MightyJack''
* ''WebVideo/MightyMoshinEmoRangers'' - A UK-made ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' parody.
* ''Series/{{Mirrorman}}'' - From Creator/TsuburayaProductions, the creators of the ''Franchise/UltraSeries''
* ''Series/MoonlightMask'' - The very first Toku show from 1958!
* ''Series/TheMysticKnightsOfTirNaNog'' - This show was notable for being an attempt by Saban to introduce American-original tokusatsu to television. Of course, it was also produced to feed off the success of ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' and ''Series/{{Beetleborgs}}''.
* ''National Kid'' - One of Toei's earlier series.
* ''Series/NinjaCaptor'' - a Sentai-esqe series that was apparently once classed as part of the ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' franchise.
* ''Series/NinjaTurtlesTheNextMutation'' - A live-action show made by Saban based on the Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles.
* ''Film/PacificRim'' - An American-produced, original tokusatsu movie made by Creator/GuillermoDelToro. Uses CGI, but is heavily inspired by Japanese practical effects.
* ''Series/PrettyGuardianSailorMoon'' - Notable for being a LiveActionAdaptation of [[Franchise/SailorMoon an already immensely popular manga/anime.]]
* ''Film/{{Pulgasari}}'' - Despite being a North Korean propaganda film, the involvement of Toho's special effects team (most notably ''Godzilla'' suit actor Ken Satsuma) and its plot involving a {{Kaiju}} still warrants its mention here.
* ''Film/RoboGeisha''
* ''Series/RobotDetective'' - Take a police drama, throw in Creator/IsaacAsimov-style robotics and you've got this series.
* ''Sasuraido'' - A series about a sword that can grant powers to certain people, but misfortune to others.
* ''Seigi no Shinboru Condorman''
* ''Series/SeiunKamenMachineman'' - Created by Shotaro Ishinomori, aired in 1984. Mostly [[XMeetsY Zorro meets Superman.]]
* ''Series/SevenStarFightingGodGuyferd'' - A fighting series made by Toho and Capcom taking inspirations from many different sources, including Manga/{{Guyver}}, Franchise/KamenRider, and Franchise/StreetFighter.
* ''Series/ShougekiGouraigan'', from the creator of ''Series/{{Garo}}''.
* ''Series/SilverKamen''
* ''Series/SpaceIronmenKyodain''
* ''Series/{{Spectreman}}''
* ''Series/SpiderManJapan'' - Notable for being the spiritual predecessor to ''Super Sentai''[='=]s HumongousMecha elements.
* ''Series/SportRanger'' - A Thai production created in the same vein as SuperSentai.
* ''Series/StarFleet'' - An example of when the Japanese attempt to imitate {{Supermarionation}} techniques
* ''Series/StarKid'' - Taking a lot of inspiration from Manga/{{Guyver}} and Series/{{Kikaider}}, this 1997 film is a rare, non-Saban original American take on the genre. Fortunately, it has since been VindicatedByCable after it flopped at the box office.
* ''Suki! Suki!! Majo-sensei'' - Created by Shotaro Ishinomori, aired in 1971. Featured the superheroine, Andro Kamen.
* ''Super Giant'' - Known as ''Starman'' and ''Spaceman'' in the west.
* ''Film/TheSuperInframan'' - while Chinese rather than Japanese, it's an obvious effort by the Shaw Bros. to cash in on ''Ultraman'''s success.
* ''Series/SuperRobotRedBaron'' - An early-[[TheSeventies 70s]] example of {{Mecha}} in toku, intentionally done in the style of Anime/MazingerZ. Its popularity later resulted in a few successor series and a 90s anime revival.
* ''Franchise/SuperSentai''
* ''Series/TattooedTeenageAlienFightersFromBeverlyHills'' - One of the first original non-Japanese tokusatsu... very cheesy though...
* ''Series/TekkoukiMikazuki''
* ''Franchise/ToeiFushigiComedySeries''
* ''Series/TomicaHeroRescueForce'' and ''Series/TomicaHeroRescueFire'' have more of a {{rescue}} slant to them than a "fight the bad guys, save the world" one, but they're both toku series nonetheless.
* ''Franchise/UltraSeries'' - Series/{{Ultraman}} and its many sequels, spinoffs, and reboots.
* ''Series/WarriorOfLoveRainbowman''- Toho's first henshin hero and an EnhancedRemake of ''7-Color Mask'' from 1959. It was remade into a giant robot anime in 1982.
* ''Series/{{Voicelugger}}'' - A Sentai series. The last production by Shotaro Ishinomori, godfather of ''SuperSentai'', released posthumously.
* ''Yusei Oji'' - Known as ''Prince of Space'' in the west.
* ''Series/ZoneFighter'' - Created by Toho, and best remembered for having Godzilla as a recurring ally of the title hero.
[[/index]]

''Franchise/SuperSentai'', ''Franchise/MetalHeroes'' and ''Franchise/KamenRider'' franchises on this list were adapted, with varying degrees of success, by Creator/SabanEntertainment to produce the U.S. series ''PowerRangers'', ''Series/VRTroopers'', ''BigBadBeetleborgs'' and ''MaskedRider''. ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'' was later adapted into ''Series/KamenRiderDragonKnight''. As for the original Japanese shows, [[NoExportForYou good luck finding official releases outside of Asia....]]

TokusatsuTropes have their own page.

Names To Know In Tokusatsu:
* Creator/HiroshiFujioka
* Creator/HiroshiMiyauchi
* Creator/MachikoSoga
* Creator/KenjiOhba
* Creator/ShotaroIshinomori
* Creator/TetsuoKurata
* Creator/EijiTsuburaya
* Creator/NaoNagasawa

Major Companies producing Tokusatsu:
* Creator/{{Toho}} (Franchise/{{Godzilla}}, Film/{{Mothra}})
* Creator/TsuburayaProductions ([[Franchise/UltraSeries Ultraman]])
* Creator/ToeiCompany (Franchise/KamenRider, Franchise/SuperSentai)
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